Page 114 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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108
JEW ISH BOOK ANNUAL
a published Hebrew text of four hundred and fifty-five sizeable
pages, he traced the vicissitudes of a Jewish family from its voyage
in steerage out of the old world of Europe to the unimaginable
New World — a difficult adventure of adjustment to a new life, to
the eternal suspicion of the emigrant that he was “an uninvited
guest” with a queer articulation of English. This massive family
chronicle earned him a place in world literature beside Thomas
Mann’s
Buddenbrooks,
John Galsworthy’s
The Forsyte Saga ,
R. Mar­
tin du Gard’s
Les Thibault.
To round out his debt to Hebrew
literature, in pursuit of an inner urge to write all his major and
even minor works in Hebrew or to render them from Yiddish and
English versions into Hebrew, he translated into Hebrew his only
novel in English
Festival at Meron.
And in his retirement he added
four plays, two one-acters, and two slight volumes of miscellane­
ous memorabilia and essays:
Gleanings
and
End o f a Sentence.
Of the three fields of literature cultivated by Sackler, poetry
was the least abiding interest. With Heinesque lyrics and poems-
in-prose — favorites in world literature at the end of the
nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century — he fed
his incipient talent and promise. But the promise remained prom ­
ise — a debt unredeemed, a commitment uncommitted. The
collective title of Sackler’s poetic effusions in prose,
Secrets,
offers
an important insight into his mystic quest. The intellectual char­
acter of his imagination probed the kabbalistic works of his an­
tecedents with insatiable curiosity. As a writer with a thorough
knowledge of revealed literature — the Bible and the Talmud —
he also showed familiarity with esoteric tracts and with hasidic
homiletics. Deep down in the innermost recesses of his mind he
knew that ignorance or inattention to their wealth impoverishes a
Jewish writer’s capacities for understanding the transcendent
visions of his people. In the first poem-in-prose, published
toward the end of his life and titled “Twilight,” he produced a
fable with an ironic twist:
The Holy One, blessed be He, created numberless suns and
worlds but they did not satisfy the mind of the Creator. For
he gave them an eternal law: they would never change their
function. The suns and the worlds did not reflect the great
power of the creator.
What did he do? He created man.
He took a spark of light from the primal light and a dark